Saudi Arabia unlike all its partners within the GCC and for many in the world would have been a terrible country, were it not for it to have been sitting on one of the world’s largest reserves of fossil oil. Moreover and, according to western common knowledge, it sponsors a strong feeling-filled version of Islam that is conducive to all sorts of redicalisation. And it denies its citizens whether nationals and / or resident expatriates many basic rights. Here is a good example in an article written by Ahmed Al-Arfaj of Al-Madina published on Saudi Gazette of July 2, 2017. It is about that other aspect of the country where a Saudisation means limiting all expatriates’ employment is being proposed. Expatriates accounted in 2014 for little less than 33% of the country’s 30 million inhabitants.
Qatar’s standoff with its neighbours is turning sour by the hour as the ultimatum of a month has elapsed. An extra 48 hours was granted though but it is believed would not alter anything in the blockaded country’s stance.
Meanwhile, it’s no secret for anyone that the oil and gas markets are at a critical turning point. Shale gas of the US has completely disrupted the dynamic in the market, brought prices crashing down. Natural Gas of Qatar as a palliative and / or a cleaner substitute would presumably anchor those prices at a level that would prevent any up movement.
Limiting the years of employment for expats
THE situation of foreigners coming to work in the Gulf countries needs an in-depth study. They come and reside in the region physically but their hearts and minds always remain attached to their homeland.
I feel pity and compassion for these expatriates. They are not citizens who contribute to building a country that they feel belong to, but they do not await the day of departure or long for the joy of returning to their homeland.
Let me think aloud with you about who would come to work in the Gulf countries in 2018 and beyond. Why don’t we limit the employment contracts of foreign workers to only four years, not renewable under any circumstance.
If we do that we will have a range of benefits. The foremost among them is to provide opportunity for the greatest number of people to come and gain from working in our country. Another advantage of this is that the foreign worker does not get disconnected from his or her own country for a long period and become like a dove that lost the ability to fly and couldn’t master the crow’s walk. This has turned the foreign worker into an angry person. He feels incapable of building the future of his homeland and he feels alienated in a community to which he does not belong.
The third advantage is that we will put an end to the weapon of grace, which the residents often use if they happen to stay here for 10 or 15 years. We hear the employee repeat on every occasion, “I served you for tens of years.”
These are only some of the advantages. There are many others, but the negative aspects are but a few, such as some people objecting to the idea of terminating the employment contract because of the need to train new workers every four years. This is not a negative in my opinion; it is one positive side of the move because this allows for skill development and breaking the routine while updating both the trainer and trainee at the same time.
I hope no one would take my words for rigidity or racism. All I have offered here is regulatory measures that will preserve the rights of all parties. Such arrangements exist in most advanced countries in order to keep a balance in the relationship between the employer and employee based on a policy of no harm or damage.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has started imposing a new fee for expats’ dependents as of July 1 and according to local reports, all residence permits will not be renewed unless this fee is duly paid in advance.
This levy starts at $320 per resident’s dependent a year whereas private sector companies at twice that figure a month for each foreign worker. This will go on increasing each year feeding the state treasury in a bid to increase state revenues.
With this levy, Saudi Arabia could generate up to $693 million a year, an official has said because according to data from the Saudi’s National Information Centre, the number of registered dependents stands to date at 2,221,551, as reported by the local media.